“Would Your Last Boss Hire You?” – Should You Ask This in the Interview?

June 21st, 2018

Throughout the hiring process, hiring managers are given a lot of advice about what to ask and what answers to expect. There is so much advice out there it can be difficult to know what are or are not good questions to get down to the bottom of things and give you the details you need to know to make a decision. For all the strange questions you might consider, “Would your last boss hire you?” may give you some information that will help you better understand the candidate. Let’s take a closer look.

Would Your Last Boss Hire You?

The first thing this does is force the candidate to think about things in a new way. They may have thought about their accomplishments in their previous jobs and planned on sharing them with you. They may have been cautioned about saying negative things about past employers and are hedging around certain topics to keep things positive.

By framing the question in this way, they have to stop and think. That means they can’t just repeat answers they’ve practiced in the mirror. You’re making them think on their feet and that’s a good thing. You want to hire someone who isn’t thrown off by simple requests. Their specific answer isn’t as important as how they answer.

What Answer are You Expecting?

Though the specific answer isn’t that important, you certainly have some expectations about what they should say. For example, if they respond that their previous employer would not hire them, you’re going to want to know why. If they cross the line from confidence into arrogance in their answer, that might be a red flag as well.

Know that the answer isn’t important, but understand what it is that you’re looking for when they answer. Look at their body language. Look at the way they hesitate, if they hesitate. Listen for negativity in their answers. But don’t just look for red flags. Also, consider the positive cues they could reply with.

What Does it Tell You About the Candidate?

Of course, beyond your expectations is what their answer really tells you. Consider this scenario. You ask your candidate if their previous boss would hire them again. They appear taken aback for a moment and then carefully constructs their answer. They may say something like, “I had an excellent relationship with my previous boss. He relied on me to make sure things were on track without much hand-holding. It was my organizational skills that allowed him to remain hands off, and he appreciated that.” This answer tells you that they are proud of what they’ve done in the past and that their previous employer trusted them on the job.

If, however, their answer begins with a laugh and an almost dismissive tone, such as, “Well, he hired me once. I don’t see why he wouldn’t do it again.” They may be hiding more important information with their short, curt answer. This may tell you that they don’t respect the process, they had negative feelings about their previous boss, or that there may have been tension in that working relationship.

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